Alley Cat Books, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, is ordinarily a quiet space for book lovers to peruse multicolored shelves for their next literary adventure. But on Sunday, the small bookstore buzzed with energy as a group of leggings-clad Bay Area residents protested Donald Trump’s presidency in the form of a sweaty cardio workout.
“We are here because in this era, in this nation, we need to use our full bodies to resist fascism!” cried Margaret McCarthy, one of two organizers of the event.
The group was assembled for a rigorous hour of Anti-Trump Aerobics—the final event in an artist- and activist-organized series called 100 Days Action. The calendar of events, which kicked off on January 20 with an Inaugural Ball, responded tit-for-tat to the Trump administration’s activities in its first 100 days. Events included Hats for Science, where participants knitted caps for the Science March, and Black Lives Matter at ATA, a film night about racial justice in honor of Black History Month. The night before the aerobics event, the collective also threw a 100 Days No Ban Dance Party, featuring music from the seven countries targeted in Trump’s blocked travel ban.
“This is a wonderful example of bringing levity and community to the resistance,” said Vanessa Schneider, an aerobics participant, before the session. “I really hope it includes some of Trump’s specific movements, so I can expand my repertoire of gestures.”
“Who doesn’t want to sweat a little bit while you laugh?” another participant, Rachel Fairbanks, added.
McCarthy, a performance artist, and Liat Berdugo, an artist, writer, and assistant professor at the University of San Francisco, led the attendees in an uproarious routine involving Democratic-blue sweatbands, Trumpian red ties, and rhythmic slogans.
“Don’t buy Ivanka’s shoes!” McCarthy called out, marching to the beat. “Don’t buy Ivanka’s shoes!” the participants echoed.
“Fuck Mar-a-Lago!” she continued, swinging a tie like a golf club. “Fuck Mar-a-Lago!” they mimicked.
“Don’t read his tweets,” Berdugo said in hushed voice, using the tie to shield her eyes.
Each new slogan ended with cheers and whoops.
“The session did a great job of highlighting Trump’s weird affectations, both physical and verbal,” Schneider said at the end of the workout.
As the session wound down, McCarthy and Berdugo asked each participant to knot their red ties together to form a large circle.
“Art can provide oxygen in a situation where it feels like there is no oxygen,” said Ingrid Rojas Contreras, a 100 Days Action organizer, as the attendees picked up their bags and headed back, rejuvenated, into their Sunday afternoons.